What did Chicago Teachers Union win for members and students? What are they still fighting for?
In the ongoing battle in the court of public opinion about the past teachers strike, the Chicago Teachers Union released a video to highlight the rampant neglect throughout the school district. The film, “The Black & White Truth,” features rank-and-file educators, parents, high school students and CTU leaders in candid discussions about the need for neighborhood school resources and the role teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians play in the learning process.
“Mayor Emanuel got everything he wanted to reform education in Chicago, including his longer school day that didn’t include an education plan; a 75 percent strike approval threshold that we blew out of the water; and, a new, deeply flawed evaluation system that rates teachers based on standardized test scores and will have a disparate impact on nearly 10,000 teachers,” said Lewis. “Our contract campaign was about evening the playing field so our students, regardless of income and zip code, get a high-quality education in well-resourced and well-staffed neighborhood schools.
What did they win?
A REASONABLE SCHOOL LENGTH: Chicago originally proposed a 7 hour, 40 minute school day that threatened to overwork students and teachers (especially without proper compensation). CTU won a 7 hour day for elementary school and 7 hour, 15 minute day for high schoolCTU members have contended their fight is a “righteous fight… for the soul of public education.” Despite a media blitz by out-of-town education reformers and Republican White House contenders who support Mayor Emanuel, the majority of taxpayers and parents agree with public school educators who have gone on strike over compensation, job security, healthy and safe working conditions and the new evaluation procedures. Parents and community groups continue to rally for smaller class sizes, more art, music, world language and physical education instruction for their students and fair discipline policies.
FUNDING FOR A COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION IN ARTS AND MUSIC: CPS originally had proposed no funding for additional staff. CTU won funding for over 600 new positions, mostly for arts, music, and physical education — important outlets for a comprehensive education.
MAYORAL ACCOUNTABILITY: The original contract called for a length of five years, meaning that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not be responsible for negotiating another one within his term. The new contract lasts for 3 years, meaning the next negotiation would be during the mayoral race and allow teachers and parents to hold the mayor accountable.
KEEPING HEALTH CARE COSTS DOWN: The original contract would’ve had a nearly 40 percent increase on families and couples. Now, there will be a freeze on health care premiums and co-pays for all CTU members.
FAIR EVALUATIONS: 70 percent of a teacher’s quality rating will be based on their practice rather than student test scores.
A MORE FAIR PAY RAISE: Originally, CPS was only offering a 2 percent pay raise with no guaranteed raise for the following four years. Now, there will be a 3 percent pay raise and a 2 percent raise each of the next couple years.
MORE MONEY FOR SUPPLIES; TEXTBOOKS ON DAY ONE: Originally CPS was only offering $100 for supplies per teacher. Now that will be raised to $250. Additionally, there will be guaranteed textbook distribution on the first day of classes, for the first time ever.